Mesquite Canyon 30k- Here I go again

When the race forecast calls for temperatures 25 degrees lower than the previous year, which was insanely hot, you know it’s going to be a good race. It was 45 degrees at the start of this year’s Mesquite Canyon 30k. And due to a rough racing season, I had no race buffer in my trail racing series, so I had to finish this last and final race if I wanted to podium again.

Knowing that the climb up Goat Camp is absolutely brutal and really a challenge for me every year, I decided to take a gamble this year by using handhelds instead of a pack, given the lower forecasted highs. This being my third year in a row to race the 30k, I was looking forward to the event, but also naturally nervous as it is arguably the most challenging race in the Trail series for Aravaipa Running.

And so, at 6:45am, we set out on the course. The race director had mentioned a slight course change this year where the aid station was moved to make for a safer road crossing. That course change would add about two miles to my race, making it closer to 19.5 than 17.5 miles. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first 6 miles or so of the course are relatively untechnical, though somewhat rocky, rollers with not much climbing. So, I settled into a good rhythm. It wasn’t long before I realized that I was going to have a GI issue. Fortunately, there was a restroom at the first aid station and I decided that spending the time to handle said issue, was the right call.


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Red is bad. PC: Aravaipa Running

After I got everything squared away, the real fun began as I left the first aid station, manned by one of my sponsors, Squirrel’s Nut Butter, and headed up the gradual climb toward Goat Camp. The lack of a pack to restrict my breathing ended up being the right call, as I was able to run sections I don’t usually run. The constant cross traffic of the 50 mile and 50k racers coming down the mountain, kept me on my toes, and served as a welcome distraction as I greeted friends.

And so I trudge on up the mountain, hoping that I wouldn’t run out of water during the 9 mile stretch before the next aid station. Fortunately, I ended up having plenty with the cooler temperatures. And before I knew it, I was at the top and was able to take my first swig of pickle juice, which tasted amazing. A few Honey Stinger chews here, some pickle juice and water there, I continued on down the steady descent.

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My friend, Danielle, and I on the descent. PC: Aravaipa Running

Shortly before the first of two remaining aid stations, I started tripping and sliding around on the trail. A family hiking up the mountain was privy to my statement of “Marisa, pick up your feet and get it together”. Fortunately, about this time, a friend came up from behind, and I caught another on the descent, so we were able to chat for a few minutes and share in our collective misery.

After the final aid station, comes a 2.4 mile flat, completely exposed stretch that is mentally the toughest part of the course for me as it’s just boring, and I was absolutely exhausted at this point. I ran behind another girl for 10 minutes, just 20 feet back, completely unable to make a move. Fortunately, she slowed and pulled to the side to let me pass, because just hanging on to her pace was killing me. But, before I knew it, the music was wafting by, and the finish line tents were in view. With the added mileage, I didn’t PR, but was able to finish about 20 minutes slower than the last two years, which is a win for me.

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Finally Finished. PC: Kyle Wissmiller

And, after a short trip to the med-tent to have some torn blisters looked at (note to self: no amount of Squirrel’s Nut Butter is going to stop blisters if you wear too-thick socks with your new, narrower trail shoes).

A giant pizza, and lots of chatting with friends, and my Mesquite Canyon experience was over for another year. Fortunately, by the time I sign up for the race next year, I won’t remember just how difficult this race is for me, or how painful those last few miles are.

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Posing with the goat after conquering The Goat. PC: Amy Burnett

The points from this race combined with the points from the other two races mean good news for me regarding the trail series. I’ll update this soon once I confirm the podium standings.  And now, it’s time for some much-needed rest and recovery after a tough race season. That is, until the Insomniac summer night racing series begins next month.

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Some well earned blisters



***Special thanks to all of my wonderful sponsors: Squirrel’s Nut Butter, for keeping me chafe free; Honey Stinger for continuing to fuel my adventures, and SolRx Sunscreen, for protecting my skin in the brutal sun while I train. And thank you always to my husband, son, and parents, for being a constant support.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free or at a discount. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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